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As we approach the end of another year we begin to reflect. It is during these reflections that we come to hard choices and decisions.

One of those decisions could surround forgiveness. The dictionary defines forgiveness as the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, and/or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution. Giving forgiveness  can take work.

Here are 8 steps to get started.

1- Define your emotion. Know exactly how you feel about what happened and be able to articulate what about the situation is not OK.

2- Decide your action. Make a commitment to yourself to do what you have to do to feel better. Forgiveness is for you and not for anyone else.

3- Know that forgiving is not condoning.Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation with the person that hurt you, or condoning of their action. What you are after is to find peace. Forgiveness can be defined as the “peace and understanding that come from blaming that which has hurt you less, taking the life experience less personally, and changing your grievance story.”

4- Understand what is happening or has happened.Get the right perspective on what is happening. Recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts and physical upset you are suffering now, not what offended you or hurt you two minutes – or ten years – ago. Forgiveness helps to heal those hurt feelings.

5- Manage your reaction. At the moment you feel upset practice a simple stress management technique to soothe your body’s flight or fight response.

6- Understand that you can control only you. Give up expecting things from other people, or your life, that they do not choose to give you. Recognize the “unenforceable rules” you have for your health or how you or other people must behave. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, peace and prosperity and work hard to get them.

7-Stop replaying it in your mind. Put your energy into looking for another way to get your positive goals met than through the experience that has hurt you. Instead of mentally replaying your hurt seek out new ways to get what you want.

8- Move forward in life and not dwell on the past. Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving the person who caused you pain power over you, learn to look for the love, beauty and kindness around you. Forgiveness is about personal power.

Enter 2011 with a clear slate and conscience. Remember if  you are looking ahead you can see where you are going.

{For more from Oretha Winston follow her on Twitter}

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